The Gift

The Gift

I must not cry, I must not cry,” Candice repeated to herself, as she rummaged through her purse looking for her car keys. “Where are those damn keys?” When, she realized her keys were in her left pocket of her blue jeans. She sprinted toward the door, but not before she took a quick glance at herself in the mirror. She looked very frail and pale.

“Well, there is nothing I can do about my physical appearance right now,” She said as she locked her apartment door. Candice got into her red Volkswagen Beetle, turned on the ignition, and clasped her hands together. She took a deep breath, and said “Please God, let me get through the inauguration without crying.” Candice pulled out of the garage and sped through Lake Washington Bridge in Seattle. The last thing she wanted was to be late to the ribbon cutting of the newly designed soup kitchen. Candice’s father designed it, before he was tragically robbed and murdered at gunpoint.

For the past six months, she kept replaying in her head the last conversation she had with father at the hospital. “Candice, my love, let your heart not be harden by what happened. I have lived, I have loved, and most importantly I had you. My greatest and most beautiful accomplishment. Remember, the greatest gift a person can give is forgiveness. Continue our work in the community and let not your heart be hardened—forgive.” As her father’s last words echoed in her head, she wiped away the streaming tears from her face. Candice pulled into the parking garage next to the soup kitchen and to park her car. There was more security than usual in the neighborhood; the mayor was attending the event. So, it took her a few minutes to find a parking space. Candice looked at herself in the review mirror and said, “let’s get this show on the road.” She opened her purse and took out her lip gloss. She quickly applied some on her lips and tied her favorite green handkerchief on her hair ponytail.

Candice figured she might as well look somewhat presentable for the event picture. The inauguration was a success. Everyone appeared to be happy. The soup kitchen was now officially open, and after several handshakes, and photos ops the event came to an end. Candice was one of the last people to leave the building. She felt exhausted as she walked to the parking garage. Out of her peripheral vision she saw a little girl, immediately Candice recognized the seven-year-old little girl. She and her family were frequent patrons of the old soup kitchen that Candice and her father ran. The brown eye girl looked disheveled and was sobbing uncontrollably. The little girl was trying to wipe away her tears that were mixed with her blood running down her noise. Candice approached the girl with caution. She did not want to scare her away. Candice with her calmest voice said, “Hey, how are you? Do you remember me?”  The little girl nodded. “What happened to your parents? Where are they? Lisa is your name, right?” She nodded. Lisa opened her mouth to utter a few words, “Dead. Many days. I’m hungry…” she said.

Candice gasped, and said, “Oh, Ok! Ok! I’ll call the police, and child protective services.” Lisa started to weep again, and said, “No, No, police bad. Same man who killed your father.” ” What!?!” Candice said, “What are you talking about?” Lisa nodded and said, “My daddy and I saw.” Candice heart was pounding quickly, “How can this be possible? How does Lisa know about my father’s death?” Candice was bemused; suddenly a chill went down her spine.